PRINT September 1970



I wondered how long it would be till somebody like Sid Geist recollected some tasty memoirs, however incomplete, about dear old obstinate Ossip Zadkine (June).

In 1948, when I met Ken Noland at the Residence Jeanne on Rue Stanislas over escargots, he said “Hey, you ought to go see Zadkine!” I did. And then there were seven of us studying privately with him on the Notre Dame des Champs—Paul England, Hugh Townley, Tajiri, Bob Thomas, myself, Ken, and another cute cuddly Southern kid that “graduated,” Henri Laurens.

Those were indeed marvelous days of passionate work and commitment. We adored, hated, feared and respected Zadkine. I made him fall backwards into the clay pit one day in astonishment over the fact that I wanted to make book ends. Ken Noland and Ossip had this terrible thing going where they would walk out on each other like newlyweds in a huff, and in total exasperation, wait for one another to apologize (which neither would) over some minuscule esthetic obstinacy. Paul England insisted on symbolizing the models’ nipples and knees with two or three peculiar dots, an esthetic “code” which Zadkine mumbled about throughout the day and evening while puffing his pipe and filling the room with smoke.

I remember building a fire in his potbelly stove on winter Paris mornings when it was my turn to do so, and the old man’s expectations of what an artist’s work day ought to be, God bless him, and the pacing of work habits he instilled in his students. Those days were life and death serious whether we made discoveries about Mozart and Bach at Bill Rubin’s place on the Square Petrarch or about the then-new jazz at Mervin Lane’s on Rue Fleurs, next door to Alice B. Toklas.

Subsequently, I used to visit Ossip at his studio every couple of years fairly regularly until just before his death. He feigned loss of memory about everybody but in actuality recalled even the minutest details of insignificance and trivia. Returning from Scandinavia a couple of years ago, I dropped in for a pre-arranged lunch at his home (with some smelly lox under my arm––he loved it) with the poet Jacque-Frederic Temple, who brought Zadkine a message from, I think, the wife of Joseph Deltieul. They became acquainted in the Midi, where O.Z. spent his summers working for many, many years. His body was pale, small thin and weak. His collar, as usual, was five sizes too large, as was his cravat. He reminded me of Tennessee William’s description of D.H. Lawrence at the end––the spirit so sturdy it kindled the body. He was as bitter and clever as ever. We said goodbye as he closed the gate. He asked me to write and we promised to see one another the following spring. A week later in New York I read he had died.

—Arthur Secunda
Los Angeles

I have a feeling of uneasiness about the last issues of Artforum, especially April 1970. May I give a quotation? Peter Plagens’ review of Richard Serra show in Los Angeles is terribly indulgent. We have seen Serra in Cologne acting the “machismo” and “tough boy” roles. Now we hear from Mr. Plagens that in America, “The museum functions as a vagina, the invited artist as a penis.”

Editor Leider’s article on Stella worries me because it seems a very subtle political enterprise rather than proper art criticism. The use of Professor Rubin’s able but eclectic writings––most professors tend to eclecticism because this “thickens the plot”––allow Mr. Leider to kill two birds with a shot and to double-cross everybody concerned: to relate Stella to modernism in order to relate also such people as Judd and Serra to Stella, so that the American art family is happily reunited. Mr. Leider does not extend himself on the reasons that may make the family reunion difficult; that is why Fried’s attack on theater or Greenberg’s writings are less quoted than Professor Rubin’s. For Editor Leider, both branches of the American art family seem to be equally legitimate, there are no bastards (to use a sexual metaphor in the late Artforum manner). Isn’t all this balanced politics? Or only provincial paranoia of one reader?

—José Luis Castillejo
Bonn, Germany

In Thomas Garver’s review of the “Dimensions of Black” exhibition at the La Jolla Museum of Art (May, 1970) the credit line for the iron mask states that it was “for a runaway slave” and Mr. Garver describes it in the review “used for recalcitrant or runaway slaves . . . made for a base use.” These are assumptions which, at this time, cannot be verified and should not be made.

Some historians in the South have suggested this piece could have had an association with American Negro slaves and used as a type of manacle. It has a stamped mark, appearing upside down, on the black of the bottom circular band, which appears to read MRDE-C.


The mask was incorrectly credited to the La Jolla Museum when, in fact, it was loaned to the exhibition by the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans, where it is on extended loan from F. C. Gandolfo. It is reported by its owner that this mask was part of the contents of Spanish ship which traveled up the Mississippi River and was sunk by residents of a French settlement near present-day Burnside, Louisiana, some time during the Spanish control of Louisiana between 1762 and 1800. It evidently was found on the river bank by the Houma Indians who had a village nearby. It came into the possession of the present owner around 1915 or 1916.

If your readers could provide additional information regarding the identity and use of this curious piece and its stamp, I would be most appreciative of receiving their comments.

—William A. Fagaly
Curator of Collections
Isaac Delgado Museum of Art
New Orleans, La.

Regarding the interview with Carl Andre:

The use of static electric light is a common acceptance of a function occupying less than a hundred years of human history. The particular technology involved has very little historical attachment to any area of preceding handcraft. The closest connection in this sense might be glass blowing, but that tradition’s pioneering collaboration with the “new electric technology” began and ended with the earliest bulbs, after which mass production moved in and the craft transferred its efforts to an increasingly rare association with bases, shades, and deflectors. While the containers visibly derive from a craft whose material was personally manipulated for enough time in history to establish a tradition of hand-made values, what functions inside the containers has no such visible familiarity with traditions of personal manipulation either in art or in crafts. Perhaps working toward art with this kind of no-art (relatively traditionless), historically “practical” functions permits attitudes of purpose which are not shared by contemporary developments in two or three dimensional material art situations, all of which inevitably trace their emergence through various awareness spectrums covering centuries of hand and finger manipulation. Beyond this is something else. While being produced through the stimulation of the strain to radically/sensibly move out of the object art possession consciousness, material art continues to categorically connect with the whole distracting history of object art in that it commonly relies on reflected light in order to be perceived. The presentation of a source of light, an emanation point of light waves in a given context, seems capable of being quite apart from any object or material situation in its effect. For one thing, I think there is the capability for a kind of psychic response to a light source point not possible with presentations of materials in given places which, especially if one has settled on little or no fabrication, are all too optically/emotionally predictable through the illumination of the “place.”

—Donald Joyce
Oakland, California